God how I hate Twin Peaks. I hate it in ways I don’t think you understand. You see, I don’t hate Twin Peaks like I hate racism, violence against women and bird poop on surfaces I want to rest my hand but are slightly out of my field of vision.
No, I hate that series for a much more specific reason. I’m going to go on record and say that Twin Peaks did more to destroy modern writing conventions in film, television, theatre and some comics then… well damn near anything. It and by proxy most of David Lynch’s work, has caused such irreparable harm to the craft of writing that were I more religious I would fall to my knees and thank God (big g) that video games and books have managed to avoid this. So far. Video games only do because games that suffer from this stunt aren’t that popular.
Twin Peaks debuted in 1990 and was a two season television series. The premise is that a young woman in a small town (the titular Twin Peaks) named Laura Palmer who is the homecoming queen. She was discovered murdered and due to unique circumstances surrounding the case, including the possibility that the murder has done so before in different states, the FBI sends agent Dale Cooper to investigate.
Not getting the picture yet? Consider yourself happy right now because by the end of the next paragraph you’ll get it.
You see David Lynch was an artiste, with an “e” and loves surrealism. Prior to this his big hits were films called Eraserhead and The Elephant Man the former being about a man who’s girlfriend gives birth to a lizard baby that upon dying causes the world to be destroyed.
Fuck if I know!
But that is par for the course for Lynch. There is no normal way of doing things with the man and his work. I would call Dune the most restrained and coherent of his works and that still had a scene where a man made a serum from a machine that had one half of a still living cat in it because why the fuck not?
But it also had Patrick Stewart acting so I don’t mind as much.
The problem that I have is that any time people interview him and try to ask him what his work actually means he is incredibly evasive implying they are beyond interpretation. You get the distinct impression he’s just making crap up because he can and no one has called him on it. Read this article if you don’t believe me. He’s the art house student you always meet in post-secondary education who you know is abusing some kind of substance for “inspiration” while he pastes together so many black and white clips in a confusing sequence that he claims you aren’t smart enough to understand. The guy would always manage to score with the hot chicks too, I never got that.
The problem I have with Twin Peaks specifically is that it was an actual mainstream success. That’s fair since the opening premise was actually quite solid. You have the murder of a young girl who, upon investigation, is revealed to have lead a double life and not only her but the whole town as well. However, in addition to that there are several dream sequences taken by Agent Cooper where he visits a place called the black lodge run by a little person (apparently that’s the current correct term) where everyone speaks in strange stilted mannerisms because apparently their lines were recorded as they said them backwards then played forwards in the show.
I don’t know why!
And if you think Agent Cooper is our rock, our lone beacon of sanity in this world of madness then I must submit a clip so outright damn, damn bizarre that I can’t even write it. I actually have to imbed the youtube link for it.
What in the blue fuck of Cybertron did I just see?
I should point out that Lynch had a nasty habit of writing on the fly. He never knew who Laura’s killer was when he started writing and made shit up as he went along. Eventually he decided to make it that the killer was a demon named Bob who possessed her father and killed her after brutalizing her severely. The only reason that was the case was because in one episode a stage hand didn’t make it out of the way of a shot in time and could be seen in a mirror during a crucial scene.
Oh god, I just said that didn’t I?
Once the killer was revealed the show’s rating plummeted faster than a prosecution witness in the Hudson River. It’s almost as if the show actually didn’t have enough substance to go on once the major question was answered. Imagine that!
Here’s my problem though, Twin Peaks was just, just successful enough garnering… fourteen Emmy nominations? Wait, I live in a world where this show gets Emmy nominations but Peter Cullen loses an Emmy to the king from Madagascar? I need to cry in a corner for a good long while.
The show became successful enough that Lynch’s incoherent method of storytelling became not only acceptable but also successful. Because of that, we can now have shows like X-Files, Lost and Fringe where the creators don’t need to have a real long-term plan for plot, they don’t even need to give the reader real justification for what happens. They can just make up whatever crap they want and add as many meaningless symbols as they damn well please without worrying about really justifying any of it. It’s getting to be a problem in video games too; Deadly Premonition is basically a tribute to the series except the player is constantly referred to by the main character of that game without any explanation until the very end of the game. Meaning if I hadn’t told you, you could play that game and never know who the unholy hell he was talking to if you never finished it. Also, I’m sure Heavy Rain had a bit of inspiration from this.
And for some reason Japan loves that show. The anime Soul Eater has a dream sequence room that’s a direct tribute to the Black Lodge. And that game I mentioned earlier? Made in Japan.
It means that now any hack writer can write whatever they want without justifying anything because they feel the audience is too stupid to actually realize that there is no plot and the king is naked.
From this I encourage you to look a lot harder at these shows and give them a hard shakedown. We can’t let this kind of slapdash writing endure. We deserve better. You deserve better.
And so too does this work exist.